Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wake schools seek $8.8 million bump

Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata pitched a budget seeking an $8.8 million increase in county spending for 2012-13, a much smaller hike than CMS'  Hugh Hattabaugh is expected to present next week.

The plan presented to the Wake school board Tuesday calls for $323.2 million from the county (read the full Wake budget proposal here).  Hattabaugh's preliminary plan,  presented Feb. 28,  would ask Mecklenburg commissioners for $355.8 million, $27.5 million more than CMS got this year.  Hattabaugh will make his formal recommendation next Tuesday.

Tata is seeking a 1 percent raise for teachers and a $500 bonus for other staff,  while Hattabaugh is talking about 3 percent across-the-board raises.

Wake is the state's largest district, with more than 146,000 K-12 students this year.  It expects to top 150,000 next year.  CMS  has about 138,000 K-12 students,  plus about 3,000 prekindergarteners, and expects to add about 2,000 in 2012-13.

According to the CMS presentation, it would have taken even more to cover rising costs, enrollment growth and some new spending,  but the district found just over $16 million in "reductions and redirections" that freed up county money.   The largest chunk of that,  $3.9 million,  came from adjusting the average salaries used for the 2012-13 budget to match current reality.

That item raised some questions,  especially given the buzz that CMS has been trying to replace expensive veteran educators with younger,  cheaper ones.  Hattabaugh, the interim superintendent, and Chief Financial Officer Sheila Shirley said the downward trend does indicate lower-paid faculty are replacing some higher-paid ones (though it doesn't prove that's being done intentionally).  Shirley notes that the reduction comes to less than half a percent of the CMS payroll,  and that she's heard the state averages are trending down as well.

The most controversial salaries,  those for top administrators,  will likely take shape after the board approves a budget plan in April.  Six years ago,  Peter Gorman inherited a 2006-07 budget done by an interim leader. During that year he added several highly-paid administrative posts.  The current board plans to pick a new superintendent in May;  we'll see what happens when the newcomer takes office.


Anonymous said...

Project Lift - You can't fix stupid.

Anonymous said...

Experience-CMS does fix with stupid.

Anonymous said...

Your not comparing apples to apples. Wake has a superintedant Mr. Tata. CMS does not have one in Mr. Hughie. Mr. Tata demands respect and is knows his systems needs. Mr. Hughie with CMS has not idea what he is doing or is just too ignorant to do his homework. Mecklenburg County is not giving CMS a increase in budget funds due to the last idiot Gorman and little Eric Davis holding them hostage last year. Folks it was only 12 months ago so this still does not sit well with the County folks. Hughie your better off taking a job down in South Carolina or Atlanta like the rest of CMS is doing pal. No offense the system that you adopted was broken by St. Gorman !

Anonymous said...

How nice of the CMS Board to possibly name a new leader in May. So we waste 2 years of direction on the kids in our system and waste more tax dollars. Incredible lack of accountability on the boards part. Next election this will certainly come to the surface I hope.

Anonymous said...

Next election is district based. 3 districts are rigged for those who have no skin in the game and only want more social services.

Anonymous said...

District 5 is up and Mr. Eric Davis will be on his way out ! FINALLY

Anonymous said...

Joke of the last 2 years- What is the value of PROACT search frim deal ? $0 as its produced 0 ! Nice deal we signed on for taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

3:42 the legislature is well aware of what is happening in CMS, don't you worry about that.

Why do you think H546 died last year?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm seems as if we have some disappearing comments...

Ann Doss Helms said...

Nothing in spam (except spam), and the only thing I've deleted recently is duplicate posts.

Anonymous said...


Follow the Money

Anonymous said...

HB546 is far from dead... Hattabaugh just went to Raleigh yesterday to talk about it again...

Dear CMS employees:

Today I will speak before the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee of the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislators are interested in our work on compensation incentives for teacher performance. They have asked me to share how we have begun developing this program and what challenges we have faced. They’re also interested in the factors we’re looking at for teacher performance, how we will measure them and what schools are involved.

We are looking forward to offering our perspective on these critical issues with the legislators because we hope what we have learned can help the state shape a better compensation structure. We will present the perspective of the CMS superintendent and executive staff; Board Chairperson Ericka Ellis-Stewart will also address the committee to offer the Board perspective.

A second related development: CMS has been invited to participate in the Instructional Improvement Systems, or IIS, Resource Consortium. The IIS is intended to be a comprehensive, statewide system that manages the process of teaching and learning by continuously improving curriculum design, instructional delivery, assessment and data analysis. It will also include performance management and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has asked us to help determine the best resources to be included in that.

These two invitations from the state leave no doubt that we’re not the only ones concerned with improving teaching and compensation. It’s on everybody’s mind now. The state is reaching out to districts, including us, to learn more about the best way to strengthen teaching and align compensation with goals. We are very pleased to partner with the state on IIS and to offer the joint legislative committee a review of what we have learned so far. It’s an indication of how important and how urgent this work is and how much work CMS has done as a district to advance teaching and learning.


Anonymous said...

perhaps I am missing something, but if Wake is a bigger district, and all districts get the same $$ per pupil from the state, why does Wake need less money from it's county board than does CMS?
Ann, that may be worth looking into.......well assuming you could EVER get a straight answer to anything from CMS staff.....


What happened to last year's CMS surplus millions? How about this year? Where is the accounting for surplus funds and how they are spent?

Are county taxpayers still paying debt service for Midwood when CMS leased the taxpayer renovated school to others?

How many millions did CMS spend this year in renovations for closed schools that were not renovated while they were used to educate taxpayer children?

How many children are in trailers because CMS closed schools to save money they didn't save?

Where are the warehouses full of ten schools worth of supplies, electronics, furniture, music equipment,library books gym and sports equipment? Did these items vanish? Inventory reconciliation?

What county programs took serious cuts last year so CMS could waste another surplus?

What county programs should take cuts this year so CMS can have an across the board raise?

How much should county taxpayer taxes be increased so CMS can continue on the same path?

Is the CMS Board going to take the lead or wait for the county to show leadership?

Are these frivolous questions?

Anonymous said...

8:30 Hugh has stated the district will not pursue 546.

However the lobbyist for project LIFT will almost certainly be pushing it.

But that doesn't matter. It is certainly dead.

Anonymous said...

8:55 PM, not all the counties (LEA's) do get the same funding per child (from the state). Actually, Mecklenburg is about 108 out of 115 and Wake is 104 out of 115. There are 115 local educational authorities (LEA's) in NC. This is this way because out of the Leandro court case, counties with low potential of tax revenues to support public schools and high concentrations of poor where deemed not getting a fair shake from the state. When I find the link to the table on the state DPI site, I will post it. But needless to say, DPI deems Mecklenburg and Wake counties as high wealth counties and could levy more taxes against its citizenry to offset the decreased state funding so it can go to these other counties. If I remember my numbers right, Meck and Wake get somewhere around (state funding only) $4400 to $4800 per student and the top county gets about $13000. Meck and Wake then rank in the top 20 or so for county funding per student. I was surprised though to see how far down Meck ranks when you looked at Federal funding which is usually all going to high poverty students. I will not engage in WC's soapbox about the fraud in that program. He is best at it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm not a finance person so someone help me out. I've never understood how federal Title 1 money is allocated. Also, can someone break down the percentage of funding NC schools receive from the federal government, state government and local taxpayers. In other words, how much money do NC students receive from the federal gov. vs. state and local authorities. The federal gov. contributes the least - right?

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 12:08

Here is a link that explains some of what you're looking for:

The problem with Title I and other funding, is it is usually allocated based on "poverty numbers" that are derived from bogus data from the National School Lunch Program.

This from July 2011:

Fiscal Implications

County Current Expense $328,339,101
State Current Expense $662,331,403
Federal Current Expense $160,473,882
Other Local Current Expense $18,254,240
Total Operating Budget $1,169,398,626

Capital Replacement $4,960,000
Child Nutrition $66,499,202
After School Enrichment $14,960,621

Total Proposed Budget $1,255,818,449

Wiley Coyote said...

Speaking of bogus FRL...Just when you think the school lunch program couldn't get anymore insane, read this. A collection agency could be coming to a school district near you:

Ohio school district hires collection agency to go after unpaid lunch money

By Sylvia Wood,

An Ohio school district has hired a collection agency to prove to students and their parents that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The Columbus City Schools hope to recover an estimated $900,000 in unpaid lunch money from almost 6,000 students. The district loses roughly $2,622 every school day in unpaid lunches, according to a report on Most of the delinquent accounts average between $150 and $170, according to Meade and Associates, the collection agency in Westerville hired by the district to collect the money.

“Our goal is to recover the balance in full,” Sean Meade, client relations manager, told But he added, “we’re here to help,” so if “payment arrangements are needed, we’ll work with the family.”

Columbus City Schools did not return a call from Unpaid-for lunches are not unique to Columbus. Across the country, districts are struggling as the ailing economy brings more students to school without lunch money.

“It’s one of those issues that we’re seeing more of,” Diane Pratt-Heavner of the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association told The group recently surveyed 964 of its members. Fifty-three percent said they had seen increases in the number of students unable to pay for lunch.

Schools have been trying to balance budget cuts with new federal nutrition standards that are expected to increase the cost of meal preparation. In response, Pratt-Heavner said her group would like Congress to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to spell out how schools should respond to requests for unpaid lunches and how to manage the debt.

“The people working in our school cafeterias are not in this line of work for the money – they want to serve all their kids – but at the end of the day, the new nutrition standards for school meals are raising the cost of serving school meals, and school nutrition programs simply cannot afford to allow unpaid meal charges go unchecked,” Pratt-Heavner told

Until then, school districts continue to make accommodations for students who can’t pay. Some offer alternative meals of cheese or peanut butter sandwiches. Districts also try various methods of collecting debts, such as phone calls and letters to parents.

Pratt-Heavner said more districts are turning to collection agencies.

Meade told his agency will start contacting parents by early April, using phone calls and letters. Of every dollar collected, the company will earn 26cents in commission.

Christine Mast said...


Look at page 29 of the 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for CMS. A footnote to the Statement of Cash Flows (Proprietary Funds) for the year ended June 30, 2011 shows that:

"...the General Fund paid $471 thousand for uncollectible meal sales."

Christine Mast said...

@12:08 am,

Look at pages 10 and 11 for per pupil State and Federal funding dollars. Dollars allocated depend on the grade level, as well.

Wiley Coyote said...


I remember that from a previous story Ann ran.

Here's where the whole lunch thing gets pathetic.

There are kids who truly qualify but don't apply for the benefit, which is sad. Yet we have thousands on the program who don't qualify but get the benefit anyway because no one verifies them.

I'm not against the program, I'm against the usual government mismanagement of it, which leads to billions of dollars in wasted funds.

Anonymous said...

I receive a free and reduced lunch voucher every summer from CMS mailed to my home with a County Tax value of $1.1 million. Why the HELL would CMS send me a FRLV for my kids with a home of that value? Because they cannot think and this is a very poorly managed program I agree. Save the $1- it costs to send me this letter on a kids lunch that actually needs it. I am not against FRL program it jst needs better oversight. Much like the entire CMS system needs.

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was silly for CMS to send an application for FRL to my house too. However, life doesn't always go according to plan. I have an "independent" 18-yr.-old living with me this year who has no family support. The kid recently got their first college acceptance letter and was jumping for joy. I have no idea how this kid is going to pay for college since she/he is technically homeless. Don't get me going on the poor job CMS does helping kids through the college application process because the system is more focused on dropout prevention. I am not this kid's foster parent because they are 18.. I am not their legal guardian either because the kid is 18. The kid receives free lunch at school although sometimes they make their own lunch at my house and bring it to school. The kid has a part-time job to pay for certain things although I do supplement this with a weekly allowance. Yes, there is fraud within the FRL program but there are also cases like this where I would hate to think a kid might fall through the cracks. I could afford to pay for this kid's lunch but I also think it's important for them to learn how to be independent given thier personal circumstances. I hope that one way to do this is making sure this kid knows that there isn't any shame in asking for and receiving help that's available when you need it. This kid can't live with me forever so I'm trying to do what I think is in thier best interest. In this case, I think having an FRL form sent to my home is the right thing and I'm more than happy to pay for, paper, postage and handling. We all know CMS is bureaucratic enough.

Anonymous said...

While I'm sharing my personal story I would like to add that my own children attended CMS and private school. One of the greatest disparities I've experienced between the two is the college application process. Private schools provide a level of help and service to students and parents in the college admissions process that is practically non-existent in CMS. If I had a manic wand, I'd assemble an army of seasoned parents who've survived their own children's journey to college to help and support kids who have aspirations and dreams to go to college but lack family support. The various armies would assemble around kids starting at the beginning of thier Junior year. This would be different than simply helping "at-risk" kids finish high school. The focus would be on successful students who need additional guidance in the area of college admissions. I think there is a great disconnect between public K-12 education and higher education in the transition process between high school and college. No wonder college drop out rates are so high.

Anonymous said...

If I had a magic wand, not a manic wand.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Spelling "their" correctly and editing my own grammar and punctuation would help too but I suppose I've seen worse here.

Anonymous said...

It was nice of Raleigh to have to sit thru the Hughie and Ericka - Ellis-Chamber-NAACP-Out for my own self speech last night. I wonder if they even listened or had IPods on (like me) ? Poor souls..

Anonymous said...

8:24 "...the General Fund paid $471 thousand for uncollectible meal sales."

These funds are for the freeloading folks who can afford to pay for their children's lunch but stiff CMS. The question is, where did the funds go and how were they spent? CMS runs its own lunch program so who would CMS pay for stiffed lunches?

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see it become public that choices in teachers are being made because experienced ones cost more. That is an improvement over the past few years such as when APs were cut and labelled bad at their job just so CMS could replace them with Deans of Students and Facilitators that could be had for teacher pay scale.

However, lets look at the long view of these younger, newer teachers...they are here because the jobs in their chosen fields are not there right now and it is important to stay employed at something. As the economy improves and those jobs become available they will bail. Then CMS will be left with a huge vacuum because they threw away those experienced teachers who came to teaching as a choice and not a necessity.

Anonymous said...

I saw 2 teachers this week that left and 1 last week who is leaving at end of year. I hugged each one (not to be sued) , but to thank them for their service. I also tell them never look back as your last day at CMS will be the best day of your professional career ! They are going to organizations with leaders and a directional future.

Anonymous said...

March 9, 2012 8:26 AM

Where did the $471,000 go that CMS transferred from general funds to pay itself for school lunches? CMS slush puppy fund! Find the money. It is probably paying for a new fleet.

No Data
No Peace?

Plenty of skewed data.
No accountability to the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Who woke up Baby Hughie? He posted on this page. Poor soul he must have a new iPad he needed to break in. Does he still want $26 million more from th County? Excuse me pal , BUT CHOKE on that one. If you have $10 million for iPads work within your budget. Become accountable you knucklehead.

Anonymous said...

First year teacher with a family of 4 is almost at the poverty line. It will take a lot more than 3% (which will not happen) to get the teachers back to a standard of living that JUST keeps up with inflation. A poor future of the most qualified to teach and inspire our youth is ahead. Does anyone in CMS leadership have a vision?

Anonymous said...

CMS vision is to blame teachers and take credit where it can be contrived. Good move giving away control of a number of dogged school facilities to LIFT. Most LIFT schools are lousy places to learn or plan a career in education. No offense intended to dog owners. CMS planning shows insight after all.

Anonymous said...

The only one getting a LIFT out of the scenario is Watts and her salary.

More moeny down the black hole.

Anonymous said...

With the Project Lift money, will the suburb schools finally get a more equal distribution of taxpayer funds?..At least an EQUAL distribution?!?

Watts' True Leader or Hack? said...

Watts should have the political capital to openly speak where others at her level don't. We will see soon enough if Watts' interest is self-betterment or genuine interest in improving conditions for educational outcomes. Does Watts have to acquiesce to the power structure like others or will she be able to speak her findings without fear of political backlash? Only a breakaway leader will be able to make necessary improvements in the schools. Sucking-up to the current power structure will only result in more losses for the children. If Watts doesn't start publically telling it like it is very soon, she will prove to be just another high priced hack.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if CMS could allocate some of this technology money to pay for copy paper and copier supplies. At my wife’s school, the administration allocates only 200 copies per teacher and no more! However, the administration requires teachers to make copies of materials for students, staff meetings, and messages for parents, but fails to provide adequate resources. So far this year, we have paid out of our pocket for more than 1000 copies on our home printer. Seems like CMS should explore ways to pay for the very basics before spending this much money on technology. CMS has always reminded me of someone who could not make his or her house payment, but went out and bought a brand new expensive car anyway. Maybe we can get the new superintendent consider issues such as providing classroom basics before branching out.